New Hampshire expands rights for franchised dealers

Publish Date: 
Jun 25, 2013
By Holly J. Wagner

CONCORD, N.H. – Gov. Maggie Hassan today signed a bill that expands motor vehicle dealer rights over renovations and materials sourcing and adds transparency to some OEM practices.

The bill amending the state’s Dealer Bill of Rights was designed primarily to address auto dealers’ concerns, but applies to powersports dealers as well because the same laws govern auto, truck, motorcycle and powersports and RV dealers. Passage of the bill also brings all but single-line construction, farming and forestry equipment dealers under the same laws.

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Among other things, the new law will forbid OEMs to require dealership renovations more often than every 15 years, or to require that the dealers buy materials and tools through the OEM when comparable items are available from local sources. It also reduces OEM influence over site selection and floorplans. It will also:

  • Extend franchise protections to service-only franchisees;
  • Require more transparency and uniformity in incentive programs, market area changes and sales performance metrics and reports;
  • Require OEMs to give dealers a look at their dealer files within 30 days of a request when the dealer is facing a change in vehicle allocation, market area or incentive program participation;
  • Require OEMs to give dealers the data underlying proposed market area changes 90 days before any such change is to take effect;
  • Clarifiy reimbursement rates for warranty parts and repairs.

“I greatly appreciate the important role that New Hampshire’s vehicle and equipment dealers play in our state’s economy. This updated law provides a more level playing field between national manufacturers and the men and women of New Hampshire who work so hard in our vehicle and equipment sales industry,” Hassan said. “Local control is a hallmark of New Hampshire, and this law will bring an end to unfair practices in the industry.”

Powersports industry groups weren’t visible in the debate over the bill, but auto and farm equipment manufacturers actively opposed it, saying it was government intrusion into private business. The Alliance of Auto Manufacturers took out ads and published polls in its effort to defeat the bill. A few weeks ago, the Association of Equipment Manufacturers threatened to take the state to court over the farm equipment inclusion if SB 126 passed.

The bill had overwhelming support in both houses.